The Retirees return to Europe – Brengz Austria


Goodbye Vienna. Our preplanning worked well and we might have caught the train on time if Kerry had not left her handbag in the train station waiting room. Literally she was stepping into the train when she realised it was not there. She ran back to the waiting room, but we knew we had missed our train. However, unlike aeroplanes we could catch the next one with our luggage and the EUrail pass gave us that flexibility. We had chosen first class seats because this is a 7 hour journey with no stops. There is a dining car, and we could order from the menu and get in seat service. The train reached speeds of 221kph and taking photos was often difficult, but we managed to capture some of the pleasant Austrian countryside and Austrian Alps. The following photos trace our journey from outside Vienna to Bregenz and you may notice the progression from plain to Alps in the west.


We arrived in Bregenz late afternoon and caught a cab to our accommodation which was outside of Bregenz and in a suburb/village called “Hard”. Very suburban and quiet but with not a lot of action either. It is a studio in a large house probably purpose built and clumsy in the way of east European architecture but suited our needs perfectly. The lines 15 and 17 bus to Bregenz Bahnhof (the main rail head) was under 5 minutes’ walk away and the buses ran every half hour – very convenient.

We walked up to the nearest supermarket “Billa” – about 20minutes away and bought some articles and two salads for dinner. After 7 hours on our bums the walk was needed. Bedtime was strange as sunset was about 8.30pm in the evening and this continued to disrupt our planning right up to the evening at the theatre when we arrived for a 7.00pm start only to find it was 9.00pm start as the theatre was open air. We knew it was open air and wondered how it was going to function in the bright afternoon light. Now we know – they wait till the sun goes down.

Bregenz is on the banks of Lake Constance Europe’s 2nd biggest Lake and the lake is the border for Austria Germany and Switzerland. The Austrian and Swiss Alps run up to the lake so Bregenz has Pfander mountain at its back. For our first visit to the city/old city we started with the board walk along the lake to the boat terminals and then walked to the cable car to ride to the top of Pfander.

My first photo is Kerry on the boardwalk and then the ultramodern dinner boat called “Koningin” docked at the boardwalk. Then follows photos of the cable car ride up to Pfander, a view of Lindau Island Pfander, and rest area where there is a mini zoo of mountain animals. I have included a panorama showing the lake spreading away to the unknown. Views of the surrounding Alps and the facilities and animals of the zoo follow. The return journey gives a clear indication of the height of Pfander and how quickly it rises behind Bregenz. Watch out two of the jousting mountain goats have escaped from this gallery to the next gallery.

After returning to the town level, we walked along one of the streets bounding the old town so there was a mixture of old and new. Amongst the houses we encountered a parked car with a car cover over it clearly been there for years: so long in fact the town has declared it street art and posted a sign about the “artist”. It is all in German with no English note but our enquires lead us to understand that some local “artist” bought himself a new Porsche and was disappointed with it, so he put the cover over it and walked away. This was in 1947. His studio is beside it and an eclectic bunch of stuff sits in the yard of the studio.

Several of the old town buildings are decorated with art works some portraying the first use of the building. In the main square stands the local parish church constructed with the eastern Christian church “onion” dome. Bregenz Summer Festival is on, so the streets are decorated with flags declaring that to be the case. In the case of these photos, they were taken when we had coffee at a restaurant above the square in one of the modern buildings which looks abhorrent and out of place. Like the monument to Indian Snake Charmers – the knotted rope statuary. No photo of the abhorrent building.

My library of photos has been overtaken by some sparring mountain goats left out of the previous photo gallery. don’t pay too much attention and they will be fine. The next photo is a historic house then the “porsche under cover”.

We had some reason to visit the Apothoke (Chemist). We found the Apothoke shop just off the main square. The interior was a museum perhaps of a 19th century shop.

We are here for our wedding anniversary. Kerry promised herself to return and see a show at the Bregenz Theatre in the Lake after we had stumbled across it in 2015. In 2015 the Opera was “Turandot” and the stage was the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army. This year it was Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly”. The stage is a deceptively simple white background with hidden stairs doorways and a hole for an enormous flagpole. Under the stage (rows F, G & H) banners advertising the show and pictures of the previous stages hence the photo of the stage which we saw being constructed. This magnificent stage is built at the western end of the lakeside walkway with Bregenz Bahnhof (train station) behind it. There is no orchestra pit but rather the orchestra plays on a sound stage inside the auditorium behind the patrons seating. This outdoor seating is erected leaving space between seating and stage for boats containing parts of the stage scenery to sail past during the performance.

One of the entertaining things to do in Bregenz is to travel on the lake and visit different countries or so you might think. Well, there are no tours as such, but you can sail aimlessly around for 1 or 2 hours (we did the 2 hour trip) looking at the different countries. The following photos give you 2 hours of excitement.

After the excitement of the boat trip, we decided to follow the self-guided tour provided by the Tourist Information Centre. Now the first stop was a shop selling various forms of alcohol. See the first photo below. Here I was persuaded to sample a Swedish single malt whisky (or do you spell it the Irish way “Whiskey”) and purchase 500ml of the brew – many of my friends will be clamouring for this. The next few photos depict some of the older buildings in the narrow streets of the old town. But number 5 is the front door of a residence which is little more than 1 metre wide at its entry – Bregenz’s smallest residence. Next is the adjoining building which appears to have been a type of craftsman’s lodge judging by the figurines displayed on the exterior. By the time we had climbed to the oldest part of the town we came across what might have been a moat around a fortified residence which proved to be a former monastery. The parish church although not connected was on the outside of the former moat but separated from surrounding land by its own moat. Inside was a clean and fresh-looking church and of course it had a confessional (you know whom I am referring to VC). After leaving the church we found a set of stairs which now allows movement between church and monastery which has been separated from the residences constructed where once monks would have toiled. The old castle gate remains with it an open portcullis and the track down to the town. In the town we found this strange feature on one block of residences – it looks like someone was buried but manage to stick their arm out of the coffin.

We had not been impressed with the boat tour so the following day we tried direct travel to selected places; Lindau Isel (Lindau Island) and Fredrickschafen in the Bavarian-Swabian part of Germany. By ferry Bregenz to Lindau Isel takes 1 hour and 2 hours to Friedrichshafen and we were to find out only 20 minutes by train to Lindau. We purchased a return journey on the ferry to Lindau and on the trip, we spotted a modern Zepplin (Dirigible balloon). Arriving at Lindau Is. visitors are greeted by a resting lion and lighthouse from the early days of trading between villages. A tower which formed part of the defences of the harbour also remains. The foreshore is hotels and restaurants, and everyone had the same idea as us to visit the island. The pictured building is the Rathaus or Local Government Hall. The other photos are general street scenes. This is an island, and it is connected by a causeway to the mainland. Near that causeway bridge we found the remnants of a church predating the 11th century. The Peterskirche is the oldest sacred building in the city of Lindau. The essentially Romanesque church goes back to the 11th century and is of supraregional importance due to late Gothic wall paintings often attributed to Hans Holbein the Elder. It stands on the western outskirts of the old town and has housed a war memorial in the form of a WW1 German soldier since the 1920s.

We enjoyed the trip but really the ferry was a pain, so we decided to experiment with the train and found it to be superior and without so many tourists

We then circled back to the harbour but our next ferry was some time off arriving. We decided to try catching the train home. Not only was it cheaper but less than half the travel time.

I think I need to say something about our accommodation in Bregenz. Whilst not in the city centre and not near shops it was well serviced with buses and very quiet. I have inserted some photos of the exterior and the interior for your interest.

Our trip to Friedrichschafen in Germany was a gamble in that we knew nothing about it, other than it was a Bavarian town on Lake Constance.

After docking we walked around checking the place out when we came upon the Graf Zepplin Museum. The Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen is there because Friedrichshafen is the birthplace of the Zeppelin airship. The museum houses the world’s largest aviation collection concerning dirigible airships and chronicles the history of the Zeppelin airships. In addition, it is the only museum in Germany that combines technology and art. The museum has been in its current location at the Hafenbahnhof (harbour railway station) since it was reopened in 1996.

The centerpiece of the zeppelin displays is a full-scale, partial model of the airship LZ 129 Hindenburg. The exhibition also includes an original engine nacelle of the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin airship. A great number of airship models, not only from Germany, are also on display in the technology department. There is a full-scale recreated Cabin Lounge of Zeppelin Hindenburg, the centrepiece of the Zeppelin airship and a partial replica of the LZ 129 Hindenburg, which was reproduced true to the original and authentically furnished. It is 33 m in length, large enough to convey an idea of the enormous dimensions of the original airship. The Hindenburg was 245 m long and had a maximum diameter of 41.2 m. It was propelled by four Daimler Benz diesel engines with a capacity of 772.3 kW (1050 hp) each, and reached a maximum speed of about 130 km/h.

After the impressive overview of the partial model from the outside, the folded-down retractable aluminium stepladder invites visitors to go on board. It leads into the lower deck, the B-deck, which has a bar, a smokers’ lounge, and toilets. The passenger cabins are arranged on two decks, stacked one on top of the other. In the cabins, visitors can experience the special inside ambience of a 1930s airship and get to know the technical aspects of this aircraft. The beds inside the cabins are made of aluminium. Every cabin has a wall-hung wash basin (with running hot and cold water from a tap), a curtained wardrobe niche, a folding table, a stool, and a ladder for climbing into the upper bunk. The cabins also have electrical lighting and are ventilated and heated.

The Hindenburg travelled 18 times to North and South America. On 6 May 1937, while landing in Lakehurst, New Jersey, the airship burst into flames just before touch-down and crashed killing numerous passengers and crew. Some of that wreckage was also on display.

My photos start with the view across the bay when alighting from the train. We walked around the bay for some distance before we encountered the waterfront. The only evidence of a commercial past is the derrick amongst the cafe umbellas. Then we encountered the Zepplin Museum.

Truly worth while visiting this museum. I had no idea of the extent of Zepplin history or that Friedrichschafen is home to the Zepplin factory today and is one of the largest employers in the town.

There was not much else different about the town. The waterfront was all cafes and very busy. Of course this was a little bit different.

We returned home to our apartment in Hard without any plans for tomorrow.

We had been informed that there were supposed to be 2 restaurants nearby and that we could gain access to a beach nearby. So, our plan for the next day was to find the beach and restaurants. We set off to find the beach and restaurants. Opposite our apartment is bush land and in that green space several trails and a football field. We tried following one of the trails ending up following a bitumen road with no sign of any beach however we did pass a restaurant which was not yet opened for the day. It had a colourful old buggy full of flowers in front which gave it some charm. During this walk we noticed that every household had wood stockpiles standing in their yards and on some occasions the stockpile formed the “fence” between neighbours – a sure sign that the winters are cold.

Our purpose in coming to Bregenz was to witness an opera perform on the Lake stage and Saturday evening was the date. We had difficulty finding the opening time and were impatient and anxious to get there. So, on the basis that the show would commence at 7.00pm we caught the bus into the city and walked to the theatre. Too early! We had arrived about 5.30pm and we learned the show started after sunset at 9.00pm, so we found seats and settled down at the Sunset Bar (a Rotunda on the end of a short pier in the lake) with a drink to wait for the show to commence at 9.00pm – yes I certainly got that wrong. We had a big lunch at that restaurant we found so we weren’t hungry, but it was going to be a long wait and as the wind picked up a cool evening. We even went and sat in our seats to wait for the show but that did not last long through boredom. Finally, about 8.30pm there was some movement to get the show on the road with the arrival of passengers from the cruise boats. We had purchased a souvenir blanket to keep out the cold wind that was rising and lined up to take our seats. There must have been over 1,000 people who finally took their seats and the show started at 9.00pm.

A very moving performance across a very functional stage portraying the arrival of the American ship with Pinkerton on board and the arrival of Butterfly and her entourage and assistant Coco, the British official Wilkinson and the other players. There were vessels arriving and passing through the channel between the stage and the audience and the opera although not familiar to me was very moving. Two hours passed quickly. Unfortunately, no photos. Home by 11.15pm and up by 5.00am to catch the train to Luzern.

To be continued.